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Report: Bids expected this week to purchase 100% of UFC

We have heard reports of a UFC sale for some time, and now, it looks like things may be close. Reports today indicate that bids are expected this week for $4 billion for 100% control of the company.

Macao UFC Fight Night Press Conference Photo by Jayne Russell/Getty Images

As we previously reported, rumors have been circulating this year about a possible sale of the UFC. Now, reports indicate that bids for the company are expected as soon as today.

According to Dave Meltzer of MMA Fighting and the Wrestling Observer:

"The bidding period is expected to end this week, on or around 6/16, regarding a sale that is expected to be in the $4 billion price range for 100 percent ownership of the UFC.”

Meltzer identifies 3 potential buyers right now - William Morris Endeavor/IMG, China Media Capital, and the Dalian Wanda Group (also based out of China). China Media Capital was mentioned as far back as March, though at the time, the discussed valuation was $6 billion. In 2015, one of the UFC’s strongest years, Forbes called the company the 10th most valuable sports brand, and cited it as being on the way to a $3 billion organization.

The UFC has been mostly silent on the issue, with UFC Vice President of Public Relations Dave Sholler telling ESPN, "As a private company, we don't discuss speculation or rumors related to our business." Always outspoken, Dana White was more public, telling the Las Vegas Review Journal, “The UFC is not for sale”.

One of the biggest questions surrounding a potential sale is the future involvement of the public company heads: Dana White, and Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta. Currently, White owns 9% of the company, with the Fertittas owning 81% (the remaining 10% is owned by a separate company). With this looking like a potential 100% sale, White and the Fertittas would lose their positions in the company.

Of course, it is still possible any or all of them could be retained in some capacity, however in the past, Dana has indicated that he might not stick around should there be a transfer of power. Meltzer indicates that the bidding companies do want White to remain, possibly even with a portion of ownership retained.

While these bids are not binding, and the UFC could reject any offers to buy, Meltzer notes that it was the UFC themselves who set this ball in motion, using Goldman Sachs to find potential bidders, and sending out confidential business information, indicating that they are actively looking to sell.

With bids coming in, it is possible that the sale is finalized as soon as this week, though the expectation is that the UFC will try to keep it out of the news until either UFC 200, or immediately after that show.

Obviously, this is a potential game changer, not just for the UFC, but for the entire sport of MMA. We will keep you posted on this story as we know more.

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